Discussion: Mixed Methods in Nursing Research : An Overview and Practical Examples


Here is a perfect example of using both qualitative and quantitative ( mixed approach in a nursing research) topic is about chronic pain management of American Indians and a way to assess the cost for providing care for them. A mixed approach is the only way to proceed with this research

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Mixed Methods in Nursing Research : An Overview and Practical Examples

Mixed methods research methodologies are increasingly applied in nursing research to strengthen the depth and breadth of understanding of nursing phenomena. This article describes the background and benefits of using mixed methods research methodologies, and provides two examples of nursing research that used mixed methods. Mixed methods research produces several benefits. The examples provided demonstrate specific benefits in the creation of a culturally congruent picture of chronic pain management for American Indians, and the determination of a way to assess cost for providing chronic pain care.

Using Mixed Methods to Overcome Barriers to Research

Barriers to effective research into chronic pain management among American Indians include the relatively small number of American Indian patients in any circumscribed area or tribe, the limitations of individual databases, and widespread racial misclassification. A mixed methods research approach is needed to understand the complex experience, epidemiology, and management of chronic pain among American Indians and to address the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative methodologies (large sample size, trends, generalizable) with those of qualitative methodologies (small sample size, details, in-depth).

This first example is from an ongoing study that uses triangulation design to provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of chronic pain management among American Indians. The study uses a multilevel model in which quantitative data collected at the national and state levels will be analyzed in parallel with the collection and analysis of the qualitative data at the patient level .This allows the weakness of one approach to be offset by the strengths of the other. The results of the separate level analyses will be compared, contrasted, and blended leading to an overall interpretation of results.

Role of quantitative data

Previous examination of U.S. national databases has reported a higher prevalence of lower back pain in American Indians than in the general population (35% compared to 26% ; Deyo, Mirza, & Martin, 2002). Thus, at level 1, quantitative administrative data sets representing health care received by American Indians, both across the United States and in broad regions, will be used to evaluate macro-level trends in utilization of health care and in basic outcomes, such as opioid-related deaths.

At level 2, more detailed quantitative Washington state tribal clinic data will be used to identify American Indian populations, evaluate breakdowns in the delivery of care, and identify processes that lead to unsuccessful outcomes. For example, in a study conducted with community health practitioners in Alaska, participants reported low levels of knowledge and comfort around discussing cancer pain (Cueva, Lanier, Dignan, Kuhnley, & Jenkins, 2005).

Role of qualitative data

At level 3, qualitative research through focus groups and key informant interviews will provide even more refined information about perceptions of recommended and received care. These interviews will provide insight into selected immediate and proximal factors. These factors include patients’ choice and use of services; attitudes, motivations, and perceptions that influence their decisions; interpersonal factors, such as social support; and perceived discrimination. This qualitative data will shed light on potential barriers to care that are not easily recognized in administrative or clinical records, and thereby will provide greater detail about patient views of chronic pain care.

Benefits of Triangulation Design: Multilevel Model

In summary, only a mixed methods study that included quantitative and qualitative methods could provide the data required for a comprehensive multilevel assessment of the chronic pain experience among American Indians. Although this study is ongoing, the plan is for a nationwide analysis of variations in chronic pain outcomes among American Indians to examine the structure of service delivery and organization. Analysis of the state tribal clinic data will address intermediate factors and will examine community-level variation in pain management and local access to pain specialists. Preliminary analysis of the focus group data has already demonstrated that there is insufficient pain management among American Indians, due in part to lack of knowledge about pain management among providers and lack of access to pain specialists.


Doorenbos, Ardith Z. Kango Kenkyu. The Japanese Journal of Nursing Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2014,

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